In North Carolina, a party is legally separated when one married person moves into a separate residence with the intent to never resume the marital relationship. Residing in separate bedrooms under the same roof is not a legal separation. Once physically separated, a separation agreement can memorialize in writing the date of separation for divorce, resolve all matters pertaining to the marriage from real and personal property division, to child custody and support, to spousal support, and even possession of the marital residence.
A separation agreement is a written out of court contract between two married people. Like any contract, the terms must be consistent with public policy. The contract must be memorialized in writing, signed by the couple before an impartial notary. As mentioned above, separation agreements can handle almost all matters pertaining to the marriage from real and personal property division, to child custody and support, to spousal support, and even possession of the marital residence. Prior to signing any agreement, it is advisable to have an attorney review your separation agreement. An attorney can ensure that your legal decisions are made while fully informed.
Separation agreements can waive, release, and establish rights and obligations for post-separation support, alimony, or spousal support even in the event the parties reconcile (meaning, the couple gets back together) or subsequently separate (designating a move out time) if the contract is in writing, and the provision waiving the rights or obligations is clearly stated in the contract. 
Working things out in a separation agreement can benefit a couple by avoiding the cost of litigation. Furthermore, litigation can be time-consuming and can take an emotional toll on all parties and family members. A separation agreement allows the parties to remain in control of their case and outcome, rather than litigating and leaving all personal and financial decisions for a judge.
There is no law requiring one party to sign a separation agreement. If discussions break down, or an agreement is not possible, or you are unsure as to your legal standing as far as marital assets or debts are concerned, the next step is litigation to obtain an order of the court. It is at this point that you should seek out an attorney familiar in the area of Family Law.
If you are considering separating from your spouse or going through a separation and divorce, call King Law today at 888-748-KING (5464). We will guide you through the process, advise you of your rights, and can prepare your separation agreement and guide you through the litigation process if needed. Our offices are conveniently located across North Carolina and South Carolina. Together we can get you to a better place in your life. Contact King Law today.
 § 52-10.1. Separation agreements.
 § 52-10. Contracts between husband and wife generally; release.